June 23, 2016
Back in the early days of IPSC shooting, there was a wry observation: "You spend your first hundred-thousand rounds learning to shoot. You spend your second hundred-thousand unlearning the bad habits you learned in the first hundred-thousand."
Yes, we used to shoot that much, and some still do. We have learned a lot of things since then, one being that you can master the same skills with half as much ammo. Part of that is due to a heavy emphasis on draw and dry-fire practice.
Yet despite ammo prices coming down, it still costs money. Add to that the time to get to and back from the range for each practice session. Then there are the days of inclement weather.
The answer? It's LaserLyte's Score Tyme Target and Trainer Target. They are both simple in use and description, even while being devilishly complex on the inside. The scoring area of both targets registers the "impact" of the laser beam you have directed at them. They remember where the "hits" were, then display them when you tell them to.
The Score Tyme scores your hits — you can even set it to record for a specified amount of time — then it displays the group and your numerical score. The Trainer Target is simpler and only shows the shots — the group — but doesn't allow you to set a time, nor does it display the score for you.
Both are a blast, and when LaserLyte shows its wares at our Editorial Roundtables, the sessions risk dissolving into gunwriter playtime with impromptu contests. In what other way can you having shooting contests with your buddies in your home and not run the risk of having to explain it to the insurance company?
Practice with LaserLyte's products offers you the tools to improve your scores in gun club matches or on the weekends and for not much more than the time spent and a few AA batteries. When it comes to winning matches, you have a few essential skills to improve. Do these well, and you can win. Don't do these well, and you'll lose, regardless of how much ammunition you grind through in live-fire practice.
The fundamentals I'm referring to are trigger control, sight alignment, smooth draw and splits. (LaserLyte can't do much about smooth reloads, but I'd bet it's working on it.)
Once you have the LaserLyte target up and running, learn to shoot groups. Set the target at the farthest distance in your office, laundry room, etc., and sit down. Use a table as a rest. Shoot the smallest group you can. If it is small, then back up. If you have no more room, then you are ready to move up. Stand, and laser-fire for groups. Do it freestyle, strong-hand and weak-hand. Take your time; get good at it. Focus your efforts on a clean trigger press and perfect sight alignment. Don't worry about speed just yet. "This isn't fun," you say? Do you want to win matches or not?
Next we have the draw. You have either the LaserLyte laser trainer pistol or an insert/adapter from LaserLyte to use in your own pistol. If you use your own, make sure not only that the pistol is unloaded but that ammo is nowhere to be found when you go to practice. Trust me; you want to be nearly OCD about this.
Get geared up, and wear your holster, mag pouches and (empty; check them twice) magazines. You want this to be as much like the range as you can. You should even wear whatever hat you wear on the range, plus hearing protection. Make it as real as possible.
Set your timer, and start taking some practice draws and laser shots. You aren't looking to set any records; you simply want to get a feel for times. Once you know how fast, smooth and comfortable it is, up the speed. Those who are serious will record times and track hits to plot their progress.
In matches, draws matter. In a regular club-level USPSA or IDPA match, you're going to be drawing three, four, five times, which doesn't seem like much, but consider the total stage time you'll spend. In a club-level USPSA match with three stages, you might be spending 45 seconds shooting. Which will improve your match results more: shaving three seconds off that time by improving your draw or risking point losses by speeding up your shooting by three seconds? A faster draw is free time deducted from your total.
You can also practice "table starts," where the stage starts with your pistol on a table or in a drawer. Do you know the fastest way to pick up and fire a pistol?
Once you have a smooth draw and you can shoot small groups, you're ready to move on.
On the timer start, move from where you are to behind a barricade and fire a laser beam into your LaserLyte Trainer Target. As Robbie Leatham once remarked to someone who mocked his less than speedy running, "It isn't how fast you get there; it's how fast you get there, ready to shoot, that matters." Robbie crushed his, and our, scores that day.
Then we get to the part everyone wants to excel at: speed. What are your split times? Fast splits depend on recoil recovery and trigger manipulation. Oh, and accuracy. A super-fast miss not only doesn't help, it hurts, so practice splits on the LaserLyte target. Line up the sights, press the trigger, then press it again as fast as you can and still get a hit. This won't help with recoil recovery, but the important part is to get a hit. Misses are fails; do not reward yourself for a fast miss.
I learned the next drill from Brian Enos. It is a variation of the Bill Drill, the one from Bill Wilson. Bill's was to get six hits on an IPSC target at 7 yards in two seconds. Brian's was simpler: six shots into the backstop as fast as possible as long as you did it safely. Why? To learn what very fast movement and cycling of the pistol looked like and train your eye and brain to see it. You're doing the same but with lasers and teaching your eye and trigger finger to bring down the time as much as possible. You'll have to validate this with live ammo at the range, but time spent with lasers should speed the process.
I know that some of you are thinking, That's great, but I don't shoot matches. OK, but even if you avoid competition, don't you want to have the smooth, natural, unconscious competence that comes with regular practice? If the time comes and you're faced with a violent threat, don't you want your draw to be smooth, your index to be grooved, your trigger press to be clean and correct?
Back in the early 1980s, when I was grinding through my first hundred-thousand rounds, you could reload a thousand rounds for about $75. Inflation makes that seem a lot cheaper than it was, and given today's ammo prices, that first century of ammo cases is going to run you not less than $28,000 new and $15,500 in reloads. I've got a brand-new hybrid sedan in the driveway that costs less than the price of that ammo new, making the cost of either the LaserLyte Score Tyme Target or Trainer Target seem like the deal of the century.
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